BOSTON (CBS) — The Red Sox have a 2-1 lead over the Astros in the ALCS, and with Rick Porcello on the mound Wednesday night, they have a golden opportunity to take a stranglehold of the series.
Porcello has been big for Boston this postseason, going 1-0 with a 1.35 ERA in his previous three appearances. Wednesday night will be his second start of the playoffs, with two solid innings of relief work also under his belt this postseason.
How bad does Porcello want to win this postseason? Real bad.
The righty got the start in Game 4 of the ALDS against the Yankees, tossing five innings of one-run ball in Boston’s series-clinching victory. Porcello threw a scoreless inning of relief against the Astros back in Game 2 in Boston, striking out Marwin Gonzalez and Carlos Correa to help preserve a 7-5 Red Sox win.
Porcello made two starts against the Astros during the regular season, allowing six earned runs in 12 innings of work. He earned the victory in a Boston win in Houston on June 3, allowing two earned runs over 6.1 innings while striking out five. Having pitched in Minute Maid Park earlier this season, Porcello knows what it takes to win in Houston.
“I think it’s very similar to Fenway. The more you can keep the ball on the ground, the better off you are. That’s easier said than done,” he told reporters Tuesday in Houston.
He especially knows how important it is to keep runners off base against Houston’s powerful lineup. Porcello surrendered three homers to the Astros during the regular season, but all three were solo shots, limiting the overall damage of those swings.
“With traffic on the bases, you’ve got to work really hard to keep their guys off balance. They do a really nice job of putting pressure on you and then they have a lot of guys that have power that can run into pitches that you leave in the middle of the zone, especially with runners on base,” he explained. “So be aware of that and do the best you can to avoid those mistakes, especially with runners on.”
Porcello picked up the win over Houston’s Charlie Morton back in June, and the two will oppose each other again Wednesday night. This will be Morton’s first trip to the mound since a three-inning appearance in Houston’s regular season finale on September 30, and he’s thrown just four innings over the last month due to a sore right shoulder.
In two starts against Boston during the regular season, Morton went 1-1 with a 6.97 ERA, allowing eight runs in 10.1 innings.